Understand the common barriers to marketing success for small to medium-sized manufacturers and learn how to address those barriers with consistency and value-driven strategy.
In this week's episode, I sit down with Nicole Donnelly, the Founder and CEO of DMG Digital. We are both marketing agency owners in the manufacturing and engineering space, so we really dive into what we see as the main challenges manufacturers face when it comes to marketing from executive buy-in to consistency and long-term strategy.
Here are the topics we covered in this episode:
- Executive buy-in of marketing efforts
- Marketing and sales silos
- Sales enablement materials
- The value and ROI of consistency
- The difference between SME and AI sourced content
- Where to begin marketing for manufacturing
The Artificial Intelligence vs Service Matter Expert (SME) discussion was a great topic to bring up. Nicole and I agreed that there is a place for generative AI tools like ChatGPT in your content and marketing strategy, but if you want valuable, trustworthy content that converts, it's best to source your content from your experienced internal talent. Nicole also shared her advice for marketing efforts that become stagnant and when to elevate your marketing strategy into paid advertising, video, podcasting and more.
- 2023 State of Marketing to Engineers Research Guide, including previous research reports
- Nicole Donnelly on LinkedIn
- Generative AI for Content Marketing
On today's episode, I'm bringing on a fellow marketing agency owner who works in manufacturing, and we'll swap stories about common challenges that small and medium sized manufacturing companies have when it comes to marketing. She'll share her advice on how to get started with marketing and different avenues to invest in if you're looking for growth, if your marketing programs have perhaps gotten stagnant and you're looking to stay with the times. We also talk about ChatGPT and our own experiences and opinions on that. It's a great episode. Let's do this.
Welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. Your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Here is your host, Wendy Covey.
Hi, and welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. On each episode, I'll break down an industry trend, challenge or best practice in reaching technical audiences. You'll meet colleagues, friends, and clients of mine who will stop by to share their stories, and I hope that you leave each episode feeling inspired and ready to take action. Before we jump in, I'd like to give a brief shout out to my agency, TREW Marketing. TREW is a full service agency located in beautiful Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information, visit trewmarketing.com. And now on with our podcast. Hey, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Content Marketing, Engineered. I'm joined today by Nicole Donnelly. She's the founder and president of DMG Digital. She's also the podcast host of Tales of Misadventure: Turning Business Blunders into Blessings. It's almost a tongue tie there. Nicole, thank you for being here.
Oh, I'm so honored and excited to be here with you. Wendy, thank you so much for having me. This is going to be so fun. I can't wait to dive in and talk all things content marketing, both of us. It's a shared love we have, right? I'm so excited. Looking forward to it.
Me too. And if you get restless, I see is that an exercise bike behind you? You can get on the bike and get going. I love it.
Yes, absolutely it is. It's great. Sometimes I'll get on there when I'm having phone calls and take meetings on there and it's super fun.
Smart. Maybe I need to drag mine from the barn into the house and I'll actually use it well. Nicole, before we get started, you have a really neat background of entrepreneurship with your family and also a pretty interesting career journey, so I thought we'd start there. And I'd like to just hear what led you into working in the manufacturing space.
Ooh, that is a long, big story. Entrepreneurship definitely runs in my family. It's a legacy that I'm just really proud of and love. My dad owned a successful manufacturing company. My grandfather owned a motel, actually, right across the street from Disneyland. Was actually my very first job ever was working at the front desk at that motel.
Such good customer service skills that you had to develop to work that job. Nice.
Oh, for sure. Yeah. And then my great grandfather owned an oil company. Very successful oil company. It's just a really beautiful entrepreneurship I just feel like is in my blood. I just grew up watching my dad grow a business from just a solopreneur to over 30 employees and was just always really inspired by him. And working at my grandfather's motel was just, I think, my first taste of just, like, how magical it can be to create an amazing customer experience and how excited and passionate I was about trying to create something like that for the people that were coming. I mean, this is like a lot of these people would come walk in the door, and this is their trip that they've been planning for years. They've saved up all their pennies and dimes to come to Disneyland. And just to be a part of that and to see that my grandfather was kind of creating this wonderful place where they could have such a magical experience, I loved seeing that. I loved the idea of being able to create something like that and be part of creating cool customer experience. So that's something that's always just been in me.
It's just like, what can I do to create amazing customer experiences? How can I help small businesses be successful? Because I was able to see really firsthand the impact that a small business can have on the community, on the families that are employed there and just on customers. And I just love it. It drives me. So that's kind of like my early start. And so I worked in corporate for a long time and did direct to consumer marketing programs for Big Pharma. And I just really, again, loved that whole marketing piece. The marketing component of really trying to help bring the messaging to life for consumers and customers and helping them solve their problems. And that was really exciting to me. And then decided I wanted to do more of that. So I ended up going into manufacturing and working in house as a marketing manager there. Took a small manufacturing company with no marketing infrastructure whatsoever to getting them on board with salesforce and HubSpot and implementing content marketing and video marketing and the whole shebang from nothing. And it was just really incredibly rewarding to see that transformation and how it transformed their business.
And I realized I woke up one day and I was like, I want to do this for other people. I would love to be able to help other companies, small businesses like this, make that same transformation. So that's kind of what led me to starting DMG digital, was I wanted to be able to help other small manufacturers. And I just like I said, I love small business and small manufacturers. So, yeah, that's how I ended up here. And here we are.
I love that story of your first win at taking a company with absolutely nothing and building that foundation and then helping them see the ROI of content marketing. And that's really a summary of what I'd like to talk to you about today, is get into the details of, for instance, for that company, were they bought in that they needed marketing, that marketing could help? Or was there an educational period of time where you had to say, don't hire that next salesperson, like you really should be doing marketing? What did that look like?
Such a great question. I will tell you that took years of difficult conversations. Years, times three.
I heard three years. And I'm not surprised.
I'm with you. I would say that is the most challenging part of my job as marketers. The most challenging part is getting the leadership to understand, especially in this industry, I feel, to get them to understand what marketing is, how to do it properly, the investment that's involved, and that it's really a long term play. I think there's a lot of misconception there that marketing should be like sales and that you just flip a switch and it's just all of a sudden the leads fly. And it's not that simple, but yeah, it was years of just really pushing and explaining to the leadership and finally, once they were able to see some of the results, then it was just kind of like it steamrolled from there.
So you had to build some small wins and work your way up to.
Small wins. Like literally just consistently blogging, like just taking the initiative to just, okay, we're going to consistently blog just twice a month. That's all we started with. Just twice a month. They went from no blogging at all and we just consistently started blogging twice a month. And it made a tremendous impact on the traffic, but then also correlated to the number of leads coming in and qualified leads, opportunities, sales, all of that just from that one small so it was absolutely taking those small kind of leaps of faith and then they were like, okay, we can invest in video. We see that this is going to help. And then they were willing to take bigger steps from there.
Yeah, I like how you called it a leap of faith because it is so difficult to help, particularly that technical business owner. Help them understand this isn't a formulaic thing, it isn't a guarantee. There's lots of factors here. And if you have a long sales cycle, you know, that lead to sale.
It'S, we're not going to be able.
To measure it in three months. Your sales cycle is 18 months, you see?
Oh, yeah, and that's so true. Especially well for this particular client. I was absolutely the case they had a very long sales cycle, really large scale industrial equipment that they were selling. So it was absolutely that challenge. So, yeah, you're right on, right on the money.
Well, thinking more broadly, beyond that one first win that you had with that first client, if you will. What are some of the other marketing challenges that you see small manufacturing companies struggle with?
I would say one of them is the silo between sales and marketing is huge. That's still a really big challenge. It's just getting the leadership to see how critical and important it is for both sales and marketing to be working together in tandem closely in building out and executing on the marketing strategy. And I think the sooner you can get sales involved in that process and then bought in, the quicker you're going to start to see results. I think that's one thing that can be a challenge to break down those silos. But I think as marketers, the more we can try to position ourselves and put ourselves in the shoes of the sales team and really try to put that sales hat on and try to really understand the customer and spend time talking to them and talking to sales reps, making sure that we're asking them questions about the customer journey and what's happening at each phase of the journey and involving them in that process. I think then you will earn their respect because I think that's a big thing as marketers is. I think salespeople don't usually have a lot of respect for marketers.
You have to earn it. I think by respecting them and asking for their input and getting them involved in that, you earn their respect. And they're part of building the content so then they're more likely to use it, which is so huge. Right. I think the content really needs to be not just created for SEO or marketing. It really needs to be created as a sales enablement resource so that it really serves both of those purposes. I don't think you can do that well unless you bring the sales team along.
Yeah. And I like what you said about working alongside sales to understand the customer, because obviously they're closest to the customer. But I think that's where marketing has a bad reputation is there are marketers that are trying to hit the easy button, if you will, and just jump straight to content that may not hit on those pain points and activities that may not serve sales very well. That relationship and that credibility starts with, hey, I really want to learn this. I'm willing to put in the time to get my hands dirty.
Are there any particular content pieces that you find sales gets most excited about or ask for the most?
That's a great question. I think cost is a big one. What goes into the cost of this? How much does it cost? Historically, that seems to be a big one. Sales really likes to see showing how the product works, like creating demo videos that actually showcase the product in manufacturing, I think, is huge. They really have loved and resonated that kind of content. So they have something like that. They can show their customers. Exactly. The inside of the system, how it works and how to maintain maintenance and all that kind of stuff. So I would say those types of pieces of content have really been some that the sales teams have. Really?
Yeah, because when it comes to demos, it's not like you can bring this giant system into demo on a customer's site.
So you really do need those videos. Or you can spin up a webinar with a software demo. So it's a unique thing to need to get the camera on the manufacturing floor to show this system or this process or whatever it is in action.
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, great question. I love that. Yeah.
Anything else? You see when we talk about marketing challenges in this space, I think one.
Of the biggest challenges is just.
The leadership to understand how important consistency is, just how important it is that it's not enough to just publish one time. You have to be continually consistently creating new content, good content. It doesn't need to be this thing where you're just like blasting out all this content, but being really intentional about the content you're creating and having a really solid plan and strategy, but then consistently making sure you're doing it. I think a lot of times, especially with these small manufacturers, when they just first get started, they're so scared to hit the publish button for the first time, then it's out there forever. And it's almost like they have mindset. Once it's published, that's it. But it's like, we're going to be continually optimizing this. It's not like the end of the game here. This is just the starting point. And so I think that's the biggest thing is you just got to push publish. It's kind of like when I first started posting on LinkedIn, I was like, terrified to hit that. I remember I was like, oh, my goodness, what's going to happen if I hit publish? What if someone doesn't like it?
What if I say the wrong thing? What if I say something wrong, but you just go for it. So I think that's a big struggle for them, is just getting them to hit publish for the first time and then just consistently getting the content out there.
Yeah, you see a lot of abandonment on people's websites where they were blogging really well once, twice a month, and all of a sudden there was a cliff and two years have gone by. So it makes you wonder, okay, what happened there? Were they not seeing results? Did the marketing person leave? They didn't prioritize things. Absolutely. Kind of loss of credibility, I would say, too, when you see that.
Yeah, you're right. Absolutely.
Well, you know what? Another thing I thought of, and I'm wondering if you get this question on struggles, one thing I hear is, how much time will this take us? Like, I'm hiring you, Nicole, to come in and do my marketing or work alongside me or whatever, but how much time will it take me? And this concern about will it be too much or just setting expectations, how do you handle that?
Well, that's a great question and a great objection. We hear that all the time because most of the people that we're working with, these are small businesses, they're wearing a lot of hats. A lot of times if they have someone internal working in marketing, they're usually working part time and that person needs a lot of support. So we find we're a really good fit for those organizations that just have like a solo marketer and they just need support on the content side. But usually what we try to explain to them the way we kind of set up our process is we interview their subject matter experts and they have to commit to 1 hour a month. Just give us 1 hour a month with your subject matter expert that month and we're going to interview them on these topics and then we're going to create all the content from there. You'll get a month's worth of content from that one interview. It's going to include blog written content, it's going to include video content and then we'll splice it out for your social channels. So we just try to tell them like, this is coming directly from your subject matter expert.
So the review process is not going to be intensive because it's not like we're creating something from nothing. We're literally creating it from your subject matter expert and just repurposing it in that 1 hour. So it's kind of like how we try to explain it to them. But that's a big challenge that you have to kind of hurdle to overcome.
One thing that we're really starting to pilot out with our clients is actually turning those SMA interviews into live events or webinars where now we're like promoting yeah, now we're promoting it to their customer base. And so now it's like we're already doing it. Why not just turn it into a webinar? So that's something we're really in the early stages of piloting out to see how that goes. But I think the more that we can make that process as easy as possible so all they just have to do is just show up and there's not as much involvement after that. It's been a good yeah, I could.
See that working particularly well with an SME. That's also a good communicator and the wheels may fall off for some of them. It may scare them away a little bit. Right?
Yeah, you're right. It absolutely does depend on the SME and a lot of them, especially in engineering, they're fierce introverts. We have a client now that we got them on board to do a podcast and they're like, we'll do this, but we don't want to do a video podcast. It just needs to be audio only. We'll baby step it out. That's totally fine. Audio only is great. So yeah, you're absolutely right.
Well, Nicole, as you're probably aware, True Marketing and Global Spec does this research study every year, this data marketing to engineers. And in it we ask who do you trust most when it comes to the author of technical content? And they say that subject matter expert, that technical person at a company is who they trust most. So to utilize that time in the way that you describe is so smart. And there's all this talk of ChatGPT and all the AI generated generative content and of course that's a conversation for another time. But the idea of you're lacking so much authenticity by creating these AI generated pieces of content versus having SME generated content, that then maybe you can use AI to create derivatives or whatever. But the source of truth, the authenticity comes from that SME and that's true to the brand. So I think that's so important.
Oh, I can't echo that enough. I think it's so critical and so important, especially because the way these chat bots, these AI ChatGPT, the way it's designed, is there's no way or guardrail in place for the chat bot to determine what's actually true. Right? It wasn't built that way. All it's doing is just pulling derivative content that already exists. It doesn't have the self awareness to be able to verify the truth of something. And so you're absolutely right. The best way for you to really identify truth as a buyer is to go directly to that subject matter expert and be as close as possible to the source of the information in that way. You're not going to get that from a bot.
I wonder if we need to start saying authored by so and so comma, not a bot on all of our blog posts and articles.
I wouldn't be surprised if that happens, honestly.
Yeah, it's interesting times for us, isn't it?
Well, hopefully a small manufacturing company that's just getting started in marketing is not playing around with that stuff. Although, who knows? But for those folks, let's start with the worst case scenario. They don't have any marketing. They maybe have a vanity brochure website like nothing. So where do you get started? How do you first engage with them? What are those first pieces that you recommend they do to get started?
The first thing we always recommend is to do a customer journey mapping exercise. So that's what we really like to start with. Well, of course, understanding who their buyer is is critical, so we want to know who their buyer persona is. And we usually will do like several qualitative interviews with some of their top customers to just really understand who they are, what their pain points are, what their challenges are. So ideally, we like to speak to them directly so that we can really hone in on that. And then we take that information and build out a buyer persona for them because the first step really is to understand who the buyer is and what their problems are. And then from there, we'll do a customer journey mapping exercise and kind of map out the deal stages and help them. We bring the sales team in, sales leadership and whoever on the marketing side is leading internally, have them both involved in that conversation. And it's really such an interesting I just love watching the light bulbs go off when we do that conversation because so much of the time we'll ask them questions about what are the questions that they're having at this stage of the journey and what are the objections that you're hearing.
And so much of the time it's really like the first time they really thought about it that way. And so it can be really a light bulb moment for them to really flesh that out and visualize it and see it. And it's amazing to see just the wealth of content ideas that you can get from that process. So we just take that information, we gather from that exercise and put together their content strategy. And of course we do the SEO keyword research and all of that behind the scenes. That needs to happen to flesh that out fully. So that's usually where we start because I think anything in marketing, obviously you have to start with knowing who your customer is very deeply. But then anything you do involves content. It's the foundation of everything. You want to do a paid paid ads campaign? Well, what are you going to be promoting? You need something. I feel like there's just no way around it. You have to start with content. And even one of the things I think I'm really excited about seeing is just this new kind of trend towards community marketing, which I think is going to be like the future of marketing.
But even with community led marketing, you have to have content to share. No matter what kind of marketing you want to do, you need content. Yeah.
It surprises me when I run across companies that have an e newsletter and they create content to feed the e newsletter rather than create content for the buyer's journey that then you can pluck from to promote in your e newsletter. So it's this mindset, backwards mindset of why are we doing this? It's like the company that starts with the Excel spreadsheet of activities without first having goals and a knowledge of who they're trying to reach and in what markets.
Right, exactly. It's so true. Yeah, about that too. Is it's just like so much more efficient because you can create that one piece of content and then just repurpose it in your newsletter on your social and all those places, and then you can chunk it out and put it in front of your ideal buyer multiple times so that they remember you.
It's that whole and guarantee that that buyer is not going to see it in all the different places that you're publishing one and then two. Like you said, that recall over repeating that message. It's definitely the case that we get bored of our messages before anybody else is like, just keep with it rolling thunder a little bit longer.
Nobody thinks about you as much as you do.
Just the reality, folks. Will you talk to my son? Not kidding. Okay, so that's the small company first getting started and you already mentioned blogging twice a month. It's like a good, nice first step. You also mentioned HubSpot and salesforce. Do you feel that those are important things to bring on right away or to delay a little bit until you get that content engine going?
Oh, that depends entirely on where the organization is at, I think. So I think that's something like typically I usually wouldn't recommend that right out of the gate. It just entirely depends on if they already have a CRM in place, how they're using their CRM, what the adoption is like, what their process is. So I would say it depends entirely on caveats.
Sure, yeah, fair. Okay.
I would say marketing automation is absolutely something that would be really critical and important for manufacturers to think about investing in if they really want to do marketing. Right.
So it's not an if, it's a when is what I'm hearing. And I understand that like true marketing, you guys are also a HubSpot partner. So let's take an aside and talk about that real fast. So why did you decide to join the ranks of HubSpot? Why HubSpot?
Well, because I had used it and loved it. First of all, I had experience working with Salesforce and I had experience working with HubSpot and Hands down found HubSpot to be much more intuitive, easier to use, a much better option for the small manufacturers that I was working with versus Salesforce, which really was just great. But for more mid market enterprise level clients it was a lot more involved with implementing that. Anyways, I just loved and used HubSpot, had great success working with it. It was just a natural and I just love the culture, how the inbound marketing methodology was just something I was using and HubSpot really of course was designed around that. It was just a natural next step to become a partner.
Yeah, we too found it to be the best fit tool for small to medium sized businesses like Hands Down. As soon as we had our first demo, we immediately called our top customers and said, hey, we'll shrink our retainer down if you will, go subscribe to this tool because it's going to save us so much time and give you so much more insight. It wasn't about being a partner. Not being a partner. It was just about working smarter. So that was a long time ago and HubSpots changed and added all these different hubs and functionality since then. But at the core, that marketing automation platform, I just don't think anybody can touch it for this size business.
Yeah, I agree. Hands down.
Yeah. Okay, so we talked about the small company that has nothing, talking about them real fast. So when I say nothing, I'm imagining those that don't even have a marketing person.
You're probably working directly with the president or the CEO or the VP of sales. When would you recommend they make that first marketing hire internally?
Or do they recommend that?
Yes, I do recommend that for sure. I have worked directly with the senior leadership and I've been in situations where I've worked directly with an internal marketer that they have and there is absolutely a difference. So I would say if you're a company that's making 5 million or more, you need to have an internal marketing person in house. You just do. You need someone to manage these days, marketing has become so complex that you just need someone to manage all that and let them have partners, vendors that they support on each of the different elements of marketing that you need to do for your organization. So that would be my recommendation. $5 million. You need to invest in a marketer. You need to have someone in staff doing it and owning it. I've done the fractional thing and it's just really hard. It's very difficult to really know the ins and outs of the business versus someone who's actually working there internally. And I think that you need that. So that would be my advice to any small business.
And I think once they invest, my.
Advice to Bravo on the same page. Yeah, and then I do think once you have that marketer in place, then that person should really be kind of like a conductor, if you will. They're not going to be able to do everything, but they need to be able to find the right partners, vendors that can support so that they can provide that strategic high level direction and vision, but then they bring in all the partners that can help them execute on that.
Yeah, we also find another formula for this is to bring, say, a mid level person that's not ready to be the strategic conductor, but they show promise, if you will, and they're the internal doer. So maybe they have strengths in HubSpot or writing or whatever it is. They have certain strengths and they lack others, but they show growability. And what we like about that model is we may come in, set the strategy, work with them, but then we're coaching them, we're helping them grow, and they're our person on the inside to nag someone about getting something done, to post social, to set up emails, to do all the trade show stuff. Gosh, we don't want to touch the trade show stuff, manage the database. So there's a lot of very tactical things that are quite frankly. Pretty expensive to outsource too, so I could make the case for that more tactical but growable person too.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, especially with HubSpot or any CRM or marketing automation that you're using because there is so much admin work that goes into just managing the platform, to be honest.
And then you let that data get too stale and next thing you know your emails are bouncing and you're getting blacklisted for poor data hygiene and all sorts of fun things can happen on that side, right?
Yes, I know. Always want to stay in the green there, man. Always want to stay.
Well, what about for let's now talk about a small manufacturing company. They have a marketing person in place, they have HubSpot, they have a good foundation, but they're stagnant and they need growth. What are the types of things that you're coming in and trying out or recommending to help them get back on track?
Yeah, that's a great question. So usually what we would do, what we've done with some of our clients is have them invest in something like podcasting or live events. Taking it up a notch that way or considering investing in some sort of like a paid strategy approach where they're actually trying to boost promote what they do. That's not something that we specifically do in our organization, but it might be something that they'd need to consider investing in is like doing some more in depth performance marketing beyond just like organic content marketing. But yeah, that would be our recommendation is to try to get them involved in some sort of like a live event cadence and come up with the distribution strategy on how they would be promoting that. And that could involve some, like I said, paid strategy. You guys recommend, what do you do?
It depends on the company and their objectives for sure. But getting more tailored content so it's like at first the blocking and tackling is let's make sure you have strong brand positioning and messaging for your company and your solutions. Okay, now let's take it into verticals or market segments. Okay, now let's go deeper and get that buyer's journey by persona or by vertical. And so it's that full coverage. So that's one and then the other one thought leadership. So you mentioned podcasting. We probably start with saying let's place you on somebody else's podcast. Let's find ways for you to speak because you want to talk about commitment. Unless you commit to that blog twice a month, they're never going to commit to the podcasting thing. As you know, it's about true. Yeah, but the idea of taking a point of view on a subject that's relevant to their persona and then taking that point of view from your own blog to other people's communities is very powerful and that's not something that is quite the machine of content marketing. It requires a lot more research and thought about how they go do that, especially at first.
And they're gun shy to do that LinkedIn post like you were at first.
So true. Yeah. It's all about taking those baby steps. It's such a process, isn't it? Oh, man.
Yeah. ABM. Boy, that's another one where people come to us and say, we want to do ABM, and so we'll scratch the surface of what that really looks like. And normally it's, well, could we have some case studies for this account and maybe a slide deck that's oriented towards growth within an existing account or finding them through targeted ads or whatever? So there's the baby step of ABM, and then there's the massive sophisticated ABM that most manufacturers, small to medium size, aren't aren't quite ready to bite off.
That's a huge, massive sales investment. And marketing, you need massive alignment, I think, to be able to pull that off at a small to mid size.
Yeah, but look at the baby steps. Writing a case study, making sure it's known. There's so many things along the way.
I think that what you just said there is huge. Making sure it's known, like the distribution is so critical. I think that's the hardest part sometimes.
But anyway, so you mentioned paid, so let's talk about paid distribution. What channels are you finding to be most effective?
Oh, that's a great question. I think LinkedIn is a great channel, especially for B, two B manufacturers. Also, Google Ads, surprisingly, is okay. Google Ads still is. I think for manufacturers that have really high very niche, that are very niche and have very high dollar products, you can really see an ROI on Google Ads really quickly if you meet those two criteria. So I think it just kind of depends a little bit on, like you said, what they're selling and what markets they're in and that kind of a thing.
Right. And with technical publications, I think the opportunity there is content based ads or some sort of offer that is helpful rather than banners about. Obviously, people products need to just get some awareness. But the thing we're finding that converts and actually drives traffic are content pieces that are educational related to what that product might solve, for instance. Cool. Well, this is such a fun question. I can't wait to hear you answer this, but when that small manufacturing owner comes to you and says, but what's the ROI of marketing? What am I going to get for this? I'm going to pay you X amount of dollars. What should I expect in return?
Oh, my gosh, I love that question. It comes every time. And I think they always have the expectation that it's just going to take two months, and all of a sudden their sales are just going to double. So first step is just to kind of set some expectations there. This is a long term. If you're going to invest in marketing, you need to look at it as like a capital investment. If you're investing in a piece of equipment, you're not going to receive a return on that huge piece of equipment in two months. It takes time. So it's kind of like resetting that expectation of them trying to see marketing as it's not a cost center, it's an investment in the company and you have to treat it as such. You have to realize that for your investment to pay off, it's going to take time for you to build and that there is a foundation that needs to be laid and that it's a process that they're going to have to commit to. You can't just blog one month and then it's not working. So you stop that's?
Really? Come on. Come on.
I wish it were that easy, but that's why I do it, because I love a challenge. I think first is just like to really reset expectations there and also share data with them from other case studies are huge. Just to be able to say like, look, this is the reality. This was the runway for this. This is the amount of time it's taken for other clients and this is where most people stop. Do you want to be here? Where do you want to so just trying to make sure that they're really committed to that upfront. Some of them just aren't there yet. That's the first step, I think. And then from there, I think we just look at step number one. Are you publishing content consistently with our existing clients?
We have to at least be doing.
That, meet activity levels. Are we completing the other yeah, first.
Step, are we publishing content consistently? The second thing is, is your sales team using this content that we're creating? Are they actually sharing it, using it, and can we at least hear from them? Third thing would be like, what's pipeline velocity look like? Is the sales cycle getting shorter? Because we're using this content and we have a process in place and then things like, of course, revenue and increase in opportunities and all that. Those are the kind of things that we like to look at. Because, as you know, attribution is just becoming so much more difficult now than.
It ever has, unfortunately. Yeah.
So yeah, that's usually what we do. But it's all about like let's at least publish. Let's at least just start consistently content out there.
Yeah, that's great. And I'll just add oftentimes what we'll say too is, well, there's this budget and time constraint. So if you want quicker time to results, then you need to throw more money at this, right? And now you're looking at outbound paid activities to get in front of other people's communities while you're building your own. If you have less money and your patience, then this will work. But like you said, the time to pay off is longer. So that always speaks to a business owner of, okay, I get that. Good better back.
Right? I like that a lot.
Well, let's shift gears a little bit and talk about your podcast. So it's called Tales of Misadventure. So tell me what it's all about and what was your inspiration for starting it?
Oh, great. As you know, I'm just so passionate about entrepreneurship. It's just love it. I feel like I'm living my dream. I've always, for 20 years, wanted to be an entrepreneur in my family, and I just love celebrating small business owners. I just love just the backbone of our society, our country is small business owners, and I've just seen so much, like, the grit. I just love it. I just love how gritty they are and how they just resourceful and flexible and so nimble and innovative. Just so innovative and so close to the customer.
I mean, small business here.
It's awesome. Yeah, I feel like small businesses are so great at staying very close to their customers, and you lose that a little bit the bigger the organization gets. And I just so passionate about customer success. So that was my motivation, is I wanted to create a podcast that would celebrate all the wonderful small business owners that are out there and celebrate all the amazing work that they're doing. And also, I think I wanted to focus in on kind of like, the underbelly, because it's not that glamorous. I think sometimes people think, oh, you're a small business owner. That just sounds so amazing. Work for yourself. You don't have a boss, and all that stuff. But there is an underbelly there. So I wanted to kind of go there and just kind of reduce the stigma about this idea that I think we have in our society about like, you got to do it all right? You got to be perfect. And it's something I grew. I'm recovering perfectionist myself. So I think it's almost like therapy for me to hear other business owners basically normalize the reality that you're going to fail, and it's okay, and it's normal.
I do feel like it's a little selfish. I'm just, like, get to hear other people share about their failures and be like, okay, I made this terrible the other day. It's not so bad because Damon on my show anyway. But I think that's what I wanted to do is just celebrate small business owners and just really especially for new people who are considering starting a business and have them just kind of get a sense for what it's like and see if they're up for it.
Yes. And see they're up for the saint of heart. Look beyond the glamour. Look behind the curtain.
Exactly. Very good.
Well, where can our listeners and viewers connect with you and learn more about your agency, DMG Digital, and also find the show?
Oh, yes. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. Love LinkedIn. You can find me at Nicole-Donnelly-DMG, and you can find us at dmgdigital.io. And yeah, that's where you can find Me. And, yeah, we love Talking to Manufacturers and seeing how we can help you. Thanks so much. Wendy and I'm all like discombobulated.
Wonderful. Thank you for being on today, Nicole.
Thank you, Wendy. My Pleasure.
Thanks for joining me today on Content Marketing, Engineered for show notes, including links to resources, visit trewmarketing.com podcasts. While there, you can subscribe to our blog and our a newsletter and order a copy of my book, Content Marketing, Engineered. Also, I would love your reviews on this Podcast, so Please, when you get a Chance, subscribe and leave me your review on your Favorite Podcast subscription Platform. Thanks and have a great day.
Wendy Covey is a CEO, a technical marketing leader, author of Content Marketing, Engineered, one of The Wall Street Journal’s 10 Most Innovative Entrepreneurs in America, and she holds a Texas fishing record. She resides in a small Hill Country town southwest of Austin, Texas, where she enjoys outdoor adventures with her family.
TREW Marketing is a strategy-first content marketing agency serving B2B companies that target highly technical buyers. With deep experience in the design, embedded, measurement and automation, and software industries, TREW Marketing provides branding, marketing strategy, content development, and digital marketing services to help customers efficiently and effectively achieve business goals.